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Only black GOP senator Tim Scott calls reparations a 'non-starter'

Only black GOP senator Tim Scott calls reparations a 'non-starter'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottDemocrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Pfizer unveils detailed analysis of COVID-19 vaccine & next steps GOP senators congratulate Harris on Senate floor MORE (R-S.C.), the only African American Republican in the Senate, says reparations for slavery are a “non-starter.” 

Scott said Wednesday that it would be too difficult to calculate who deserves compensation and who must pay for the institution of slavery and the years of discriminatory laws that followed its abolition.

“There’s no question that slavery is a scourge on the history of America. The question is: Is reparations a realistic path forward? The answer is no,” Scott said. 

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Scott made the comments when asked about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE’s (R-Ky.) dismissal of reparations as a viable policy idea. They also come as a House committee holds a historic hearing on the prospect of reparations.

McConnell said Tuesday that he doesn't think “reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea.” 

Scott declined to respond directly to McConnell’s remarks, because he said he had not read them, but offered a similar view.

“If you just try to unscramble that egg and figure out who are we compensating, who’s actually paying for it and who was here in 1865 — you start seeing a formula that it’s impossible to unscramble that egg,” Scott said. “So I think that it’s a non-starter.”

Scott said the question of reparations is separate from the election of Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaHarris: 'Of course I will' take COVID-19 vaccine Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter encourage people to take COVID-19 vaccine George Clooney says Amal beat him and Obama in a free throw contest MORE, the nation’s first African American president, in 2008, which McConnell has argued undercuts the case for reparations. 

“That’s not relevant to me,” he said. “Reparations has nothing to do with whether you can elect a black president or not. That’s a whole different conversation."

“Reparations are about what happened in the past,” he added.

The issue is a topic of conversation on Capitol Hill this week because the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing Wednesday morning on reparations.

Among those testifying were Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerJudge whose son was killed by gunman: 'Federal judiciary is under attack' Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Policy center calls for new lawmakers to make diverse hires MORE (D-N.J.) and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose 2014 article “The Case for Reparations” reignited a national dialogue about the issue.

McConnell on Tuesday argued that the nation “tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation, elect[ing] an African American president.”

“I don’t think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it. First of all, it would be hard to figure out whom to compensate,” he said.